INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ARTIST
- Born in 1942, Jhang, British India (now in Pakistan)
- Lives and works in New Delhi, India
UNDERSTANDING THE ARTIST
From Indira Gandhi to Mother Teresa, to Bhopal's gas tragedy victims, Raghu Rai has played a part in building up the collective memory of the masses with his widely distributed images that have documented crucial moments and figures of contemporary history. Raghu Rai started photography in 1965, and a year later was taken up as the chief photographer of The Statesman. Sometime during this period in his life, Raghu Rai's work had been spotted by Henri Cartier Bresson, the master of the craft. Henri Cartier Bresson had come across Rai's exhibit in Paris in the year 1971, and nominated Rai to join the photo collective Magnum Photos that he co-founded previously.
Despite the thematic variability, Rai maintains the local context in his works as his focus remains inwards as he captures India in all its complexities and contradictions from the cityscapes of Kolkata and Delhi to which he has dedicated entire books, to portraitures and documentation of the Sikhs as a community and Mother Teresa.
He did an extensive documentary project for Greenpeace on the chemical disaster at Bhopal in 1984, and its lasting effects on the victims. The results of this project were curated in a book and displayed in three exhibits that have been touring Europe, America, India and Southeast Asia since 2004, which was incidentally the 20th anniversary of the disaster. The exhibition was done by Raghu Rai with an altruistic motive of creating awareness about the Bhopal gas tragedy and supporting the victims of the tragedy, many of whom remain uncompensated and continue living in the contaminated environs of the affected region.
The significance of Raghu Rai as a symbol for photography in India is high – He was awarded the Padmashri award in 1971, one of the highest civilian awards in India rewarded to a photographer.
Raghu Rai , CLOUDS SERIES 7, 2010, digital scan of photographic negative on archival paper, 20 x 30 in
Raghu Rai , CLOUDS SERIES 6, 2010, digital scan of photographic negative on archival paper, 30 x 20 in
Raghu Rai, Reflection at Lajpat Nagar Village, 2005, digital scan of photographic negative on archival paper, 20 x 30 in
Raghu Rai, The Flute Player, Delhi, 1975, archival pigment print, 30 x 20 inches
Raghu Rai, Sea of Humanity @ Bombay Central Station, 1995
Raghu Rai, My Father and my Son, 1969, 23.5 x 18 inches
Raghu Rai, MONSOON DOWNPOUR IN DELHI, 1984, digital scan of photographic negative on archival paper, 20 x 30 in
Raghu Rai, Nudies II, 1982, 18 X 27.8 in
Raghu Rai, ON A TRAIN TO DARJEELING, 1995, digital scan of photographic negative on archival paper, 20 x 30 in
Raghu Rai, SELF PORTRAIT 2, 2010, digital scan of photographic negative on archival paper, 20 x 30 in